These Gospel words are some of the most complex ever put down in Scripture. They weave in and out, twisting and turning. If…you unweave the all the strands, there are three colors of thread that emerge.
The first is God is called Father, implying that God is a powerful presence, not suggesting sexuality or maleness, but closeness and intimacy like a relationship between a parent and a small child.
Second, God the Father comes to live in us, and thus, and we in live in God. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God the Father, is what comes to live in us, and we live in the Holy Spirit. So there is a mutual, living together of spirits. We are in the Spirit, and the Spirit is in us.
Third, as a result of God, the Spirit living in us, we can live in perfect harmony and peace. We become people of peace. People are subsequently drawn to and attracted to a community of peace, harmony and love. Within John’s difficult style, these are the three colored strands: God is called Father with all the intimacy that the word, father, brings. God, the Holy Spirit, comes and lives in us and we live with God; and we then become peaceful people.
A strange sensation that overcomes me occasionally, maybe you have too. I will be using my hands to do something, to hold a newspaper, type on the computer, work with the screw driver. As I do, I look at them and how they move; I see my father’s hands. They are no longer my hands, but my father’s hands. My father’s hands were a lot like mine. The fingernails. The way my hands and fingers move. My hands and fingers are almost identical to my father’s. I even let my imagination go, pretending they are his from 70 years ago …
I’m a lot like my father. I have his shoulders, his stomach, his legs, his fingers, his hands, his feet. In many ways, I am my father. So my father lives in me. … Sometimes when I sneeze loudly, I even make the same noise he did, the one that would scare me as a child.
My father doesn’t really live inside of me. But I’ am a lot like him. I have his attitudes, mannerisms and even share his name: Michael J Ader, Jr. If you knew my father, you would know me. If you know me, you’d know a lot about my father.
Why am I so much like my father? Scientifically I have his genes and chromosomes. But we spent a lot of deal of time working around the house as I was growing up. Just by day to day living, he imparted his qualities to me. He didn’t even try. It just happened.
You’re the same way, I’ll bet.. The spitting image of your someone in some way: parent, parents, or grandparents.
This is how we should approach the gospel lesson. When Jesus says, “My father lives in me,” I can understand that because Michael Ader, Sr. lives in Michael Ader, Jr. So when Jesus says, “I live in my father and my father lives in me.” God’s mannerisms live in his Son. The Father’s love, the Father’s forgiveness, the Father’s compassion, the Father’s willingness to die for his children. These qualities that Jesus had in him, the same qualities that he got from the “Dad,” no disrespect intended.
When did it happen? When did Jesus get to be like God? The Bible tells us that long before the world began, Jesus, the Son and God, the Father, were living together up in heaven. The way I see it, the Father and Son spent a lot of time working around the house up there in heaven long before the world began.
Jesus saw God the Father up real close. Gradually, Jesus became just like his Dad. And besides, they were of the made of the same stuff, the same substance, the same genetic code or whatever God’s is made out of. …
And then, eventually, after some billions of years, when Jesus came down to earth, Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father because I am a perfect imitation of my father. I am a perfect replica of my Dad.” We can understand that because we may be like our parents and they are like us.
Then the Bible says, “We will come and live in you.” Just as the Father lives in the Son and the Son in the Father, so we will come and live in you. We, God; We, the Spirit; We, the Holy Spirit; we will come and live in you. That’s the very same love, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness and kindness that was and is in God. Now this same shining glorious presence of God is coming to live in you/me.
We become familiar with those divine qualities happen by walking, talking, working, and just plain “hanging out” with God. God gradually seeps into our lives. And we can understand that. Because Michael Ader Sr. lives in Michael Ader Jr. The father lives in the son. The mother lives in the daughter. The father lives in the daughter. The mother lives in the son. We can understand that because people closest to us live in us. Their love, their compassion, their mannerisms, their values, their beliefs seep into our lives. We don’t even know that it’s happening. God’s Spirit seeps into our lives and we don’t know it is happening. Why?
Because we’ve “hung out” together, God and us; we’ve walked together; we’ve talked together; we’ve worked together.
When God comes to live in us, it is his pure, absolute love that lives there. What is the result of all of this loving living inside of you? We obey God’s commandment to be a loving person and the result is peace, harmony, oneness with others.
That’s what this Bible passage is all about God. Jesus is praying to his Father: “God would you and your love please come and live in these people, so that they would be so they wouldn’t fight so much, so that they would be in harmony with each other.”
Do you see? The consequences of the love of Christ coming to live in ones’ heart is peace, oneness, harmony. It spreads and is contagious.
This paraphrase of Martin Luther is one of my favorites. He said “Can a rock that has been in the sun light all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night?” Can a Christian who has lived in the sunlight of God’s love not fail to give off warmth and love? No. We need to live in the sunlight of God’s love. We need to bask in the sunlight of God’s compassion. We need to absorb God’s light into ourselves. And then…reflect it through our living.
Here is the sequence. Step one: God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are pure love. They learn love from one another. Step two: The love of God and Jesus and the Spirit comes to live in us. Step three: When God’s love lives in us, there is much more peace in our families, our churches, our offices and our earth.
All this began with my hands. I was pounding a nail the other day, and I saw my father’s hands pounding. I was typing the other day, and I noticed my father’s fingers at the keyboard typing. I started to laugh the other day, and I heard my father’s laughter in my own. My father lives in me. Your father lives in you and you live your children as well. We can seeourselves and our Heavenly Father in one other.
Jesus said: God of love, my heavenly Father; would your love come and live in my people? Would you come and live in my people that they may indeed love and be peaceful with one another?
Such was his fervent wish and prayer. May it be ours? Amen.